BEIRUT: The contribution offered by the international community to help Lebanon cope with the influx of Syrian refugees to the country is not enough, President Michel Sleiman said Friday.
“The financial contribution [of donor countries] is not enough and the participation in sharing the number of refugees is not enough,” said Sleiman in a meeting at Baabda Palace with the International Support Group for Lebanon to follow up on decisions were taken at a meeting held in New York last month.
“Shelters [for refugees] inside Syria were not established and the path of the Geneva [negotiations] seems to remain obstructed,” he added.
Sleiman told the ambassadors that the recent meeting in New York was successful but that the decisions resulting from the international meeting still needed to be implemented.
“There is a consensus that the New York meeting was successful in both its form and content, and what is required now is to follow up on the important conclusions that were issued at the meeting and the strategy and programs that should be adopted to implement them, he said.
“These conclusions are a roadmap to what can be done,” he added.
The president also called for holding a new conference for donor countries and further meetings for the International Support Group for Lebanon to follow up on the New York meeting.
The meeting at Baabda Palace was attended by the heads of mission or delegation of the Arab League, China, the European Union, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. The U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon and representatives of the UNHCR and the World Bank were also present.
An international meeting at the U.N. General Assembly in September pledged $339 million in additional humanitarian aid in response to the Syrian crisis, including $74 million for Lebanon to support refugees.
The U.N. is assisting more 794,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and there are hundreds of thousands more who remain uncounted.
A statement from U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly’s office said that the International Support Group will continue to be a strong advocate for assistance for Lebanon.
“The impact of the Syrian crisis – including the huge burden imposed by the influx of refugees – becomes more acute by the day, underlining the need for strong and coordinated international support,” the statement said.
“Participants looked forward to ... engaging with a broader range of stakeholders on ways forward, including with regard to the possibility of a more broad based high level meeting to rally support for Lebanon once work in the various support areas is further advanced,” the statement said.
According to Plumbly’s statement, a high-level Sept. 30 meeting organized by the UNHCR in Geneva had focused on “the need for greater burden-sharing, including resettlement.”
“ UNHCR continue to encourage commitments additional to the $530 million already received for Lebanon this year,” the statement said.
Sleiman had proposed last month that Syrian refugees be placed in “safe zones” inside Syrian territory to ease the burden of the refugee crisis on Lebanon. The proposal came ahead of the U.N. meeting in Geneva that included neighboring countries, the United States and European states.
Plumbly’s statement also recalled “the urgency of [Lebanese] government formation, and its importance if the security, humanitarian and development challenges facing Lebanon are to be met effectively.”
Participants in the meeting also "looked for the resumption of dialogue and stressed again the importance of commitment by all Lebanese parties to the Baabda Declaration,” an agreement to disassociate Lebanon from the Syria crisis.